Saturday, June 28, 2008

Inspired by Pedro Vera (Don't Purchase Anything from Verizon)

I've already commented on Pedro Vera's Web Log, but since I've been tempted to relate my Verizon experience here for some time, I decided to let Mr. Vera's blog entry push me into writing my story.

Don't buy anything from Verizon. Don't buy FIOS, don't buy DSL, don't buy local phone service, don't buy long distance, don't buy cellular, and if Verizon starts selling cute, fluffy bunnies, don't buy a cute, fluffy bunny from Verizon.

I was a Verizon customer for many, many years. I had local phone service from them while living in two different places in North Carolina for some 16 years. When I moved from NC to Northern Virginia, I called Verizon to tell them about the move.

Verizon: What features would you like at your new number?
Gilahi: Same as I have now, just local service and voice-mail.
Verizon: We can't do that.
Gilahi: ?
Verizon: We only sell packages of services now. The package that contains voice mail also contains call waiting and call forwarding for only $15.95 a month.
Gilahi: But that's not what got last time I moved, and it's not what I want now. I never use call forwarding because it's just never that important to get hold of me, and call waiting is the most aggravating thing that any phone company has come up with since phone solicitors. All I really want is voice-mail, besides which that only costs me $5.00 a month.
Verizon: I'm sorry, the system is set up in such a way that I simply can't order strictly voice-mail for you. I have to order a package. What you can do is order the package and when you get to your new residence, call back and cancel call waiting and call forwarding.
Gilahi: You have got to be kidding me.

She wasn't kidding. This should have been my first clue that Verizon was an organization of weasels. Still, I was engaged and giddy with the prospects of moving in with my lovely bride and moving to a new state and so forth, and I'd been a Verizon customer for years, and they did give me a way to get what I wanted, even though it involved me taking care of it instead of them.

When I plugged my phone into the wall jack at my rental place in Virginia, did I call my fiance? My daughter? My mother? Hell no. I called Verizon and cancelled call waiting and call forwarding. You know the reason they set it up this way is because some significant percentage of people never make that call and the weasels at Verizon grow fat and lethargic making people pay for features they never use.

So I was a relatively content Verizon customer for the years I rented. I even got DSL from Verizon and was pretty happy with that for a few years.

Then we bought a house, approximately 10 miles down the road from where we were renting. At the new house, the phone sounded scratchy and DSL didn't work at all. Called Verizon. They came and determined that the problem was inside the house and, since I didn't have a service contract with them, it would cost me $75.00 for them to come in and diagnose the issue. Over the years I'm sure I would have paid a lot more than that in service contract fees, so I figured I could just count this as a moving expense. Of course, they couldn't do it that day, they had to come back another time.

They did. A different technician came and examined every phone line running through the house. He couldn't find a problem at all. He determined that the issue must be outside the house, and he wasn't equipped to handle that.

And so it went. The outside guys said it was inside. The inside guys said it was outside.

I actually finally talked to a technician who told me what was going on: Our house is approximately 2500 feet from the nearest switching station. The reasonable limit for a signal is about 1800 feet (or so he said). He told me that 92% of my signal was being used just to try to boost the signal to my house, leaving me 8% for actual Internet access. He said that I had the worst possible situation: Technically I had DSL support, but practically I would never be able to use it.

I called in Cox for broadband and digital phone service. No problems, and when I got my first phone call, I realized that I had turned the volume all the way up on all of my phones just to hear people and now they were deafening me. No problems with the connections either inside or outside the house.

So Verizon misrepresented my ability to use their service, but that's not the end of it.

After having been a customer of theirs for some 20 years and moving with them across two states, when I moved 10 miles away they managed to misspell my name in the phone book. Not only are my friends and family not able to find me listed in the phone book, but apparently some joker whose name is spelled the Verizon way is a real deadbeat. I've gotten numerous phone calls and letters from collection agencies looking for the wrong guy.

Dozens of phone calls and e-mail messages to Verizon later, I still pick up the new white pages every time they come out, and I still find my name spelled incorrectly. I even had one "customer service representative" tell me that since I was no longer a Verizon customer, they would just remove my name from the phone book.


Do I even need to say it? The next edition came out and I was still in it, still misspelled.

Please don't by anything at all ever from Verizon. If you do, don't say I didn't warn you.

Coming soon: Don't buy Maytag.


Pedro Alberto Vera said...

Funny, I was ready to update that I decided to cancel my order. Why should I give these people $150/month to treat me like trash?

I called them, took four calls only to find out it can only be done during business hours. Bastards!

Gilahi said...

Pedro - I will repeat one thing that was in my original comment on your blog which I deleted: How do these people stay in business?

Lucy said...

Total agreement with Verizon. And I'll bet I can match my Maytag story with yours. I'm so mad at them. I will never buy Maytag again. In fact, they aren't even Maytag anymore. They were bought out. Which smacks of false advertising to me. Just a little.

Gilahi said...

lucy - Ah. So now I'm committed. I have to do the Maytag story just so we can compare notes.

GreenCanary said...

I have Verizon cell service and it doesn't bother me. But I will admit that I pay more for services that I don't need but was forced to buy, but I'm just too lazy to care about it.

Gilahi said...

Canary - See? That's how they getcha. The weasels.

Herb of DC said...

Verizon totally blows. I worked for a competitor once and Verizon was well known for challenging and refusing to pay carrier access fees it owed other companies. Verizon would just wait until the competitor went bankrupt which happened a lot in 2001-2002.

Gilahi said...

I guess I've gotta give 'em credit, Herb, that's a business strategy that wouldn't have occurred to me.

nutmeg96 said...

I freaking hate Verizon. Their shoddy cell service caused me to miss the birth of my niece. When I called to complain, they offered to send me a new phone if I signed a new 2-year contract. AS IF.

Gilahi said...

nutmeg - Sorry to hear that. You know, it's been many years since I told Verizon to get stuffed and occasionally they still send me a little thingy in the mail telling me how happy I'll be if I just switch back. Do they really think I might be interested at this point?

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